islamabad - At an event organised here at a local hotel yesterday, the movement ‘United for Healthier Kids’ was launched in Pakistan, where various partners stepped forward to pledge “Behtar Kal, Aaj Se” – a better future for Pakistan’s children.

United for Healthier Kids is an initiative which had started globally to eradicate the factors leading to poor health of children. The main aim of this cause is to develop healthy habits in the children. It is a knowledge and practice based campaign to help parents and teachers establish healthier eating, drinking, and lifestyle habits in children through game-changing education and fun ideas to inspire action and influence behaviour, in the age group of 3-12 years.

Under this initiative, the movement will work closely with all the major stakeholders to determine the obstacles and constraints that stand in the way as well as the solutions for a healthier childhood.

The nutritional and health conditions in Pakistan have reached an alarming level over the past decade. Currently, Pakistan has the third highest number of children suffering from stunted growth; 43.7% of the total children under the age of 5 suffer from it; 15.1% are wasted and 31.5% are found to be underweight.

The launch event was attended by stakeholders from the government, diplomats, media, the non-profit sector, and parents. The event consisted of a discussion that revolved around health conditions in Pakistan, the importance of fitness and exercise, and the dire need to address the problem of nutritional deficiencies.

Speaking at the launch event, the chief guest and panellist Ahsan Iqbal, Minister of Planning, Development and Reform, said, “A healthy nation is pivotal to economic and social development, which is one of the major pillars in the Vision 2025 plan, and our collaboration with the United for Healthier Kids movement is a step in the same direction. Our government is committed to realizing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which seeks collaboration between government and private sectors. Our partnership is in the spirit of synergizing resources of public and private sectors for a healthier Pakistan. We thank Nestlé Pakistan for bringing this initiative to Pakistan.”

Ahsan Iqbal switched from English to Urdu during his speech to be clearer, saying: “I want my message to reach the masses so I’ll choose the medium for inculcation and complete implication and dissemination of the message among the masses.”

He further reiterated in the mother tongue that the government and the masses will have to cooperate and collaborate with each other to overcome these hurdles and problems, adding: “It’s not something we can do alone.”

During his speech a little girl showed up on stage with a glass of water to offer to the minister since he was continuously talking and was presumed to be thirsty. After quenching his thirst with half the glass and thanking the kid, Ahsan Iqbal gave demo to the guests and said, “Many would say this glass is half empty and others would say its half full, it’s just about the perspective and we need to have a positive perspective in life in order to achieve our goals and become successful.”

Iqbal also took bait on the media and said that it’s also their responsibility to promote the positive causes and bring change in their news patterns. Their focus shouldn’t only be on the criticism but should also be on the side of productivity and advancement so the masses can be encouraged.

Bruno Olierhoek, Managing Director Nestle Pakistan, said, “We strongly believe that the health challenges our children face cannot be tackled by a single organization or entity but only through a multi-stakeholder approach. We are grateful to the ministry of planning, development and reform, as well as our other partners for coming on board with this movement and giving us their valuable support. We are committed to making Pakistan a healthier society by utilizing all the resources at hand.”